Peggy Noonan transcriptions
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(Many of these clips are from Noonan's book, Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, 1994.)
Affluence detaches. It removes you from the old and eternal, it gets you out of the rain.
The other day I met with a Chinese dissident who has served time in jail, and whose husband is in jail in Beijing. I asked her if the longing for democratic principles that has swept the generation of Tiananmen Square has been accompanied by a rise in religious feeling -- a new interest in Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity. She thought for a moment, and looked at me. "Among the young, I would say our religion is money," she said. I nodded, and said, "Oh, that's our religion too."
Beware the politically obsessed. They are often bright and interesting, but they have something missing in their natures; there is a hole, an empty place, and they use politics to fill it up. It leaves them somehow misshapen.
Hypocrisy is one traditional value our society might reconsider re-embracing. Old America was full of grown-ups who were wonderful hypocrites.
[The leaders of the Catholic Church] need to let younger generations of priests and nuns rise to positions of authority within a new church. Most especially and most immediately, they need to elevate women. As a nun said to me this week, if a woman had been sitting beside a bishop transferring a priest with a history of abuse, she would have said: "Hey, wait a minute!"
[W]e're all too quick to judge. That we don't even let the evidence of our eyes stop us in our rush to judgment...That we are not skeptical enough of what new media can cook up in its little devil's den. That anyone can be the victim of a high-tech lynching, and that because of this we have to be careful, slow down, look deeper. We live in a time when what you say is taped, and those tapes can be cut, and the cuts can be ruinous, and if you think it only happens to the rich and famous, think again. It's coming to a theater near you.
My generation, faced as it grew with a choice between religious belief and existential despair, chose marijuana. Now we are in our Cabernet stage.
The worst thing about what is called the homeless situation is that people are living in the cold and damp of the street. The second worst thing is how it corrupts the people who walk by, making believe that they don't see, making believe that they don't hear what is being said to them, playing the heavy in the movie of their mind as they shake their head no.
Dynamism has been leached from our system for now, but not from the human brain or heart. Just as our political regeneration will happen locally, in counties and states that learn how to control themselves and demonstrate how to govern effectively in a time of limits, so will our economic regeneration. That will begin in someone's garage, somebody's kitchen, as it did in the case of Messrs. Jobs and Wozniak. The comeback will be from the ground up and will start with innovation. No one trusts big anymore. In the future everything will be local. That's where the magic will be. And no amount of pessimism will stop it once it starts.
That old friction -- the one between the genuine society and the genuine artist -- made for great art. There was no Ulysses without an angry Irish populace to inspire and ban it. Lady Chatterley's Lover had power because everybody ran from the printing press screaming, "A dirty book, a dirty book!"
You don't have to be old in America to say of a world you lived in: That world is gone.
Memory is a trickster, moments fade, what grows more vivid with time is interpretation.
And most of us know something else: in an age when politics is everything, people will do anything. They will have no scruples, no compunction, no remorse.
A thought: good people are always at a disadvantage in the world because to be good is to be honest and the honest feel the weight of their misdeeds. Real bad guys don't, or not often, or not consistently, or not much.
If everyone lived as Christ asked, Communism would have no converts but the devil.
I close with a nod of small thanks for the title of a book I saw the other day called, Are You There, Vodka? This is Chelsea. The stewardess was reading it on a flight from Phoenix to Newark. She was laughing. It was nice.
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